Six University of Michigan faculty members have been honored for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education as this year's recipients of Arthur F. Thurnau Professorships, including Logan Skelton, professor of piano at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Criteria for Thurnau professorships include a strong commitment to students and to teaching and learning, excellence in teaching, innovations in teaching and learning, a strong commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body, a demonstrable impact on students' intellectual or artistic development, and contributions to undergraduate education beyond the classroom, studio or lab.
The professorships are named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and are supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust. Recipients receive $20,000 to support teaching activities, including travel, books, equipment, and graduate student support.
Professor Skelton is being honored for a remarkable record of teaching awards and an impressive roster of awards won by his students - evidence of what one student lauds as "an ability to mold his approach to the needs of each individual student, for his or her particular needs at any moment."
Through innovative and inclusive teaching methods, Skelton has welcomed a diverse range of students into his piano performance studio, "partnering with them in the educational enterprise from the positive perspective of ability, and not of disability," as one colleague describes. Students praise his support and mentorship, such as his efforts to include undergraduates in professional and performance opportunities. Skelton's service to his school includes overhauling the piano literature courses.
Skelton is a well known concert pianist who has performed widely in the United States, Europe, and Asia and has been featured on many public radio and television stations including NPR's Audiophile Audition, Performance Today, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition, as well as on radio in China and national television in Romania. Also a composer, Skelton has a special affinity for art song, having composed well over 100 songs, including numerous song cycles.
The other five faculty members being honored with Thurnau professorships in 2017 are Evelyn A. Alsultany (associate professor of American culture, LSA); Valeria M. Bertacco (professor of electrical engineering and computer science, College of Engineering); Deborah E. Goldberg (associate chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA); Mark B. Moldwin (associate chair of the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, and professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, CoE) and Donald R. Zak (Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor, professor of natural resources, and associate dean for academic affairs, School of Natural Resources and Environment; and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, LSA).